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Transcript

From the special Singing Stream issue of the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Vol 36, No. 1 (Winter-Spring 1989).

Part 1

Camera pans over photo of Landis family

Bertha Counting Bertha looks at photo on wall.


Bertha: One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. You know when I tell people I had eight boys, a lot of people didn't believe it. Eight boys and two girls. Three girls. And then I had lost two girls at birth. I'd of had five girls. Ain't that something! And I am still here. I don't know how I done it! I just don't know how. But the Lord was with me. He had to be.


Traveling shot from car of rural Creedmoor. Film title runs.

Song: "A Union in Heaven.

There's a union in the heaven where I belong.
There's a union in the heaven where I belong.
There's a union in the heaven where I belong.
Oh, I belong to the union band.
There's singing in the heaven where I belong.
There's singing in the heaven where I belong.
There's singing in the heaven where I belong.

Fleming drives car through coun tryside. He travels down dirt road to homeplace and greets his mother.

Fleming: I left here in '46 and I haven't been back since-not to stay. Most people look forward to seeing each other, especially the brothers and sisters, for the family reunion. That's where we all get to see each other without going to a whole lot of places.

Members of family greet Fleming.

Bertha and Fleming sit in front of house.

Bertha: [Voice over.] I guess I told you that I had a large family. Eight boys and three girls. As the boys grew up, I saw that they had a talent for singing. I began to realize that they had a singing stream coming from both (Formal photograph of family singers) sides of the family. I wanted them to grow up and be involved in something that was worthwhile-and something that would bring them joy and happiness as they grew up in years. So I began to teach 'em.

JezebelHomeplace, living room.
Fleming leads Claude, Tony, and grandson Ken Daniel in song. Bertha, her daughter Priscilla, and wives of the brothers sit in kitchen in background.

Song: "Jezebel."

Jezebel ...Jezebel ...Jezebel ... Oh, Jezebel
God's got tired of your wicked ways.
You know the angels in heaven done numbered your days.
He said your evil deeds.
God done got tired.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
Jezebel, woman hear God talking.
He said he's tired of your wicked ways.

Why don't you stop still, stop, stand, listen.
I'll tell you the story about Jezebel.
'Cause her sins was so wicked, Jehovah got angry.
Her soul went to leapin' and jumpin' in hell.
Way back yonder in the olden days.
John told Jezebel about her ways.
Say, "Your evil deeds have ruined the land.
You repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

She got mad at John cause he told her about the gospel.
Told her servants to boil him in oil.
But they tell me God looked from the windows of heaven.
Spoke the word, this oil wouldn't boil.
Raised his hand, the creation trembled.
Stamped his feet, time stood still.
Raised his voice to look down and thunder,
"John go do my will."

Then it's Jezebel, Jezebel, Jezebel, oh Jezebel!
God's got tired of the wicked ways.
You know the angels in heaven done numbered your days.
You know your evil deeds.
God done got tired.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
You got to go to judgment and stand the trial.
You got to go to judgment and stand your trial.

John drives by Landis land. He points out Claude's house, lake, homeplace, Ken Daniel's trailer, Priscilla Daniel's shop.

John: One of my brothers, one of the members, you know, of the Golden Echoes, this is where he lives. And that was one of my father's pride and joy when he built that pond down here and stocked it with fish. Over there is the home house where all of the children was raised. In this particular house over there, that's when we was really farming with something like fifteen to sixteen acres of tobacco. Kenneth, the one that plays bass instruments and lead, he lives over there where you see the red car. This is my sister lives here. They are in the upholstery business. They have an upholstery shop. And this is where I live. l've been here ever since 1959.

John's ClockInterior of John's house. Camera pans across stuffed chairs and chandeliers in formal living room. Closeup of clock on mantle. Camera pans back up to John.

John: Before my father had passed, I asked him one day, I says, "Can I have this clock that you have here?" He says "Yeah, I'll let you have it on one condition." I said, "What is that?" He said, "That clock belonged to my father's father's father's clock. That's where all started from." And he said, "It was handed down to me and I'll let you have the clock on one condition-that you never sell it." He said, "Now don't ever sell that clock." And I promised him that I wouldn't. And I'll never sell it.

Still photos of singing groups:
1. Fleming in the Swannee Lark Singers
2. Tony with unidentitified group.
3. John and Claude in Golden Echoes.

Bertha: [Voice over.] They took back after my father. And he had a brother that taught music and sang, and my mother had two brothers that taught music and sang. And they just inherited it, that's all. They just inherited.

Rehearsal Golden Echoes rehearse in John's garage. John leads Golden Echoes in rehearsal of "Going Up to Meet Him."

Song: "Going Up to Meet Him."

Oh, by and by. By and by
By and by. By and by.
Said, I'm going on going on a chariot ride.
Oh, I'm going up to meet him in the air.

Oh, Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus.
Said, you saved my soul one day.

John: [Voice over.) The way groups really originated: they started from your own church. You know, you'd be singing in the choir, maybe you could find out this guy could sing, this person could sing. And after singing in your church, maybe rehearsing a little bit, you would get together on your own. Then you'd try to see if you could make it with a group.

Song: "Going up to Meet Him" continues.

Jesus. Jesus.
Jesus. Jesus.
Said, you saved my soul one day.
...
. . . I'm going up.
Nothing but joy, joy and happiness.
Peace, peace forever.
We will tell, tell the story
About his wonderful, wonderful glory.
Said, I'm going up to meet him in the air.

Said, I'm going up to meet him, meet him.
I'm going up to meet him, meet him.
Joy, joy and happiness.
Peace, peace forever.
We will tell, tell the story
About his wonderful, wonderful glory.
Said I'm going up to meet him in the air ....

Bertha: [Voice over.] I listen to 'em here sometime when they're rehearsing, but I don't hardly ever goes with 'em 'cause they go all the time. They're singing somewhere about every Sunday. They've been around Henderson, (Golden Echoes poster.) around Fayetteville, around Roxboro, Burlington, and they've been to Chicago several times, and to Newark, New Jersey.

Cars and people arrive for 1981 anniversary concert at the Hawley Elementary School.

I don't know how many times they've been up there. They've been all over North Carolina singing. I don't know no places or no churches hardly where they ain't been.

EmceeMaster of Ceremonies introduces Golden Echoes at concert.

MC: Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the Golden Echoes.

Golden Echoes march in as group through applauding crowd. They perform, and crowd responds.

Song: "Trouble of this World."

Said I soon will be done, trouble,trouble of this world.
Singing days down here gonna soon be over.

Oh, I soon will be done.
I'm not worried about it. No.
Said, I'm going, you know that I am, some day now.
Trouble of this World
If you see my mother, would you tell her don't cry.
'Cause she knows that her child was born to die.
Would you tell her that I'll meet her over in that glory land.
'Cause I'm going, you know that I am, some day now.

If you tell my heaven, tell my Heavenly King
Tell Him I'm coming on home on that morning train.
Where my burdens and my sorrows, they won't be so hard to bear.
I'm going to live . . . oh! with God.

Said, I soon will be done.
I'm not worried. Trouble of this world.
Meet my father. Trouble of this world.
Meet my mother. Trouble of this world. _
Then I'm going to live with God.
Good God a'mighty . . . I'm not worried about it.
[Repeat chorus.]

Song ends with instrumental section

Red InkBertha talks while looking at photos.

Bertha: Now my father was bitterly against any kind of music in the church because when he was single he (Still photos of Bertha's father.) played the banjo, the fiddle and the mandolin-that's what he played. And he thought, you know, that because was playing that when he was out in the world it was wrong to bring it into the church. But how he learned how (Still photo of her father and stepmother reading newspaper in dentist's waiting room.) to sing shape notes. My mother had to teach him him 'cause he couldn't read. My father couldn't read when he and my mother got married. And he used to write to her, he was in Uniontown, Pennsylvania-that's where he worked at. And he would write to her and he couldn't spell none of the words right. And when the letter would get to the post office, and it would stay there. So he went to the post office, he said, to see about why my mother didn't never get the letters he wrote her. And the postmaster said, "Is you the fella that writes with the red ink?" [Laughs.] He said, "Yes." "Well, all your letters come back." [Laughs.] "All the letters you ever wrote come back."

Claude comes out front door ot homeplace and hands Bertha shape note hymnal. She looks through it.

Bertha: [Voice over.] When my father would go off to teach a choir after I got Iarge enough to sing, he'd take me with him to different churches to help him teach this choir how to sing.

Still photo of Bertha's father with girls behind him.

He'd go to sleep coming back home. That was horse and buggy days. He'd go to sleep and I'd drive the horse and buggy home. He'd have me singing bass and tenor and alto, and he'd sing the soprano. And then I'd help show them how to sing the bass: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, Sol, Do, Do, Do. My father would motion, and I helped sing the alto and helped sing the tenor and everything, teaching them how to sing.

Bertha and Claude Bertha sings shape notes; Claude sings words.

Song: "Love Lifted Me."

Love lifted me.
Love lifted me.
When nothing else would help
Love lifted me.

Love lifted me.
Love lifted me.
When nothing else would help
Love lifted me.

Claude sits on porch. Scene shifts to Bertha talking in house. Camera photograph of Claude.

Bertha: Claude was born with a veil over his face. His grandmother pulled It it off, and she pulled it back this way. It just looked like a black veil. And she said, "This boy is going to do something. I don't know what he going to be, but he going to be unusual."
And when we'd known anything, he was writing songs. You'd see him go way over yonder in the woods and stay. I didn't know what he was doing, but he was writing songs.


Claude sings Claude and Bertha sit on front porch. Claude is singing.
Song: "Who Is This Man?"

Who is this man?
The one that walks up and down this road
With a sack on his back
Just carrying his heavy load.
Said, I got to go now, but I don't drive a new, shiny car.
But I get where I'm going
Oh, whether it's near or far.
No, people don't know me, sir
No, not like they do you.
But when we all reach Canaan Land,
My Father, he'll know me too.

Who is this man?
He walks up and down these roads.
With a sack on his back
Just carrying his heavy load.

Distant shot of exterior of homeplace. Family group sits in front on benches and chairs.

Bertha: [Voice over.] They used to be singing upstairs. Two bedrooms upstairs when they was here, and they were singing across the hall, you know. And their daddy would holler at 'em and tell 'em to hush that fuss up there. They'd be singing and patting their foot, (Still photo of Bertha and Coy with cigar.) you know, over top of our heads. And he'd holler at 'em, "Cut that fuss out." I'd say, "Well, let 'em sing. They ain't out doing no mischief or nothing."

Still photo of Bertha and Coy with fiftieth wedding anniversary cake.

Bertha: He kept his vow and I kept mine. We stayed together sixty-two years. He used to tell people, say, "I didn't promise to stay with you but twenty years." I said, "Well, its time you're gone." [Laughs.] But he was nice, he was just plain nice. And he table. was a good farmer. That's how we got this place, 'cause he was a good farmer.

Still photo of Coy and Bertha's father.

Doshie: Do you know what they was thinking about when that picture was made? What they could do for us to go to work...

DoshieDoshie shows photo. Sisters Priscilla and Jessie Mae and mother Berth sit around dining room of homeplace.

after they got through with the pictures. We went over to Grandpa's that day because some people was there from-where'd they live, Mamma?

Bertha: Pennsylvania.

Doshie: From Pennsylvania. You know we never had seen a car from Pennsylvania. It had Pennsylvania license plates on there. And we stopped work to go over there to see these people from Pennsylvania. That was before Priscilla's time.

Priscilla: Long before. [Laughs.]

Doshie: And we got over there. Daddy called himself dressed up. (Still photo of Coy. Camera pans up his striped pants.) He put on a pair of striped pants and a shirt. He didn't take no bath. He washed his face and his neck and his feet. That's all that got washed. [Laughs.] And we went over there, and they were sitting on the porch making pictures. As soon as they got through making that picture, we had to come and go to the field.

Get upsRobert and Fleming sit in front of homeplace with Bertha.

Robert: I'm going to beg that mule's pardon, and I'm going away from here. I ain't coming back. Anybody told me fifteen years ago I'd be sitting right here living right over there.

Bertha: You didn't ever think you'd come back down here.

Fleming: I ain't never said I wouldn't come back here to live.

Robert: 'Cause I didn't learn nothing on the farm. I only did what Daddy told me and I didn't do too much of that-not very much of it.

Fleming: He'd say, "Robert, Robert."

Bertha: Robert was fat; he couldn't get around like the rest of them.

Fleming: Mama, Robert wasn't that fat. Robert was fat, but he wasn't that fat.

Robert: I was lazy.

Fleming: That's right.

Robert: I won't deny that. I'm still lazy, but I always would work a job. You know, I never would steal nothing.

Fleming: In other words, 'cause you had to.

Robert: I'd work if I had to.

Bertha: You wasn't no better to work than none of the rest of 'em.

Robert: I just didn't like to farm. Daddy had too many "get ups".

Bertha: He'd make you hoe that row three or four times till you got that row straight.

Robert: He'd be at the house, and you'd decide to rest awhile. He'd walk down and look at that dirt, and see how dry it was. He'd know how long you'd been standing there. You know, he could tell just how long you'd been standing there on that plow. He'd say, "How long you been standin' there?" "I just sat down." "No, you ain't!" Bamm! He hit you aside the head. "That dirt's dry. You've been standing at least ten minutes."




A Transcription of A Singing Stream

From the special Singing Stream issue of the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Vol 36, No. 1 (Winter-Spring 1989).

Part 2



Camera pans still photos: Man plows with mule (Farm Security Administration photo). Workers take in tobacco leaves (FSA). Fieldworkers pick cotton (N.C. Archives). Workers pick suckers off tobacco. Workers chop and hoe in field (FSA).

Song: "Heaven on My Mind" sung by family group.

Last night on my pillow
As my heart began to pray
I thought of my blessed Lord so kind.
I asked him to keep me safe
Until the break of day
And I got up with heaven on my mind.

I got up with heaven on my mind this morning.
On Jesus who healed the sick and blind.
Let the sea billows roll, I have glory in my soul.
For I got up with heaven on my mind.

Bertha: [Voice over; song continues in background.] And they'd get in the when we was in the field together. Maybe chopping or pulling suckers from off the tobacco or getting up sweet potatoes. My husband used to raise or four hundred bushels of sweet potatoes. We'd get to singing in the field. And the people around in the community would stop and listen at us. [Laughs.]

Family group sings "Heaven on My Mind." Camera pans to photos on mantle and special plaque to "Mother Landis" with musical note.

Song: "Heaven on My Mind" continues.

I thought of the suffering and the load He had to bear
That I might this great salvation find.
And then I saw mansions He had gone on to prepare
And I got up with heaven on my mind.

I got up with heaven on my mind this morning
On Jesus who healed the sick and blind.
Oh, let the sea billows roll, I have glory in my soul.
For I got up with heaven on my mind.

Bertha hangs clothes in bedroom closet.

Bertha: [Voice over.] If a black man wanted to buy a home, he couldn't buy it 'cause they wouldn't sell him no home. And as times went on, this Farm Security Administration that was going on then in other counties and other states...

Still photos: FSA offices in Durham and Granville County; newspaper with article; Coy Landis; and Bertha Landis

but Granville County didn't know nothing about it. And I was reading the paper one day and I saw it there. And I told my husband, I said, "Here's writing in here that we can buy a home." He says, "We can't buy no home. We ain't able." So I read it to him. I said, "We can go put in our application. Let's try." So we went in and put in our own application, and out of three hundred, they combed it down to twenty, then they combed it down to ten. And out of that ten was four black and six white.

Bertha talks in dining room.

And we was one of the black. And the other people around didn't believe it. [Laughs.] They didn't believe we could do that but we did. So that was the beginning of people -black people- buying homes.

Long shot of boys leading cow in front of homeplace. Boys play catch in front of modern homes in neighborhood. John on riding mower mows his lawn. His daughter sweeps walk. Bertha sweeps yard with dogwood broom and sings. Camera pans to follow go-cart as it drives by her and out drive to highway.

Song: "I'm a Child of a King."

My Father is rich in houses and land.
He holdeth the wealth of this world in His hand.
Of rubies and diamonds, of silver and gold
His coffers are full, He hath riches untold.

I'm the child of a King . . .

Bertha: We raised some of everything to eat. Sweet potatoes, canned food, cows, milk, butter, chicken. And time come for us to pay what we was supposed to pay we could go ahead and pay it. If the tobacco didn't do nothing -at that time we moved in, tobacco died. A third of our crop died.

Photograph of woman and man suckering tobacco.

And sometimes we didn't get over a half a crop, but if you had a plenty of food, they'd carry you on over to the next year.

Doshie Doshie looks at photograph of herself as teenager. She talks with sisters and mother.

Doshie: Okay, at that time you didn't just get a job. Your mother and your father had to decide for you to go take that job. And they told me I could go and take this job. And the lady going to pay me five dollars a week. That was money The first week I worked, I said, "I know what I'm going to buy-a table cloth." We had two fertilizer sacks for our table cloth. The first thing I bought was a table cloth. I'll never forget it. I paid a dollar for it.

Bertha: Tell what kind of sacks they was.

Priscilla: They were white flour sacks.

Bertha: White flour sacks washed and ironed.

Doshie: Yeah, but they had them seams in there, and I didn't like that because when you'd set the plate, it would bump. It wouldn't sit down flat.

Jessie Mae: I don't remember any of this.

Doshie: Yes, you do. [Laughs.] I bought a table cloth, was the first thing I bought. When I went out, I bought a table cloth that Saturday, paid my way home on the bus, and I had two dollars left and give Daddy the dollar and a half and I kept fifty cents. That's what I kept out of that. And the next time I got paid, I kept a quarter out of it and brought every bit of it home and give to Momma and them.

Exterior Robert's house. Fleming barbecues ribs. Robert sits and talks.

Robert: You remember when me and you used to wear the same size shoe?

Fleming: There is no way I can forget it. I didn't go to church that Sunday because Momma didn't go, but I didn't have no shoes to wear.

Robert: In other words, you'd wear 'em one Sunday, and I'd wear 'em one Sunday. Now, people don't believe that, but that's what happened.

Fleming: It's the God's truth. And it wasn't because Momma and Daddy didn't work. It wasn't because Momma and Daddy didn't work like slaves either. And we wasn't the only ones. A lot of'em was like that, but we didn't know of 'em.

Robert: 'Cause I remember, it was a four shoe. And the next year my feet jumped to eight.

Fleming: I sure was glad. You couldn't wear my shoes no more.

Robert: You wasn't as glad as I was. I didn't want no big feet, but I didn't care. They had to get me an eight, and I think yours went to a five. Boy, I sure was glad then.

We'd get one pair of pants-a suit. And I wore a hole in the pants. I never will forget it, Fleming. I went up to Zady's. And we was sitting there talking and talking, you know. And I got up, stood up. And one of the guys, no, the girl told me, "You done sat in some chewing gum somewhere." I said, "I have?" She say "Yeah." And I reached back there to pull the chewing gum off and pulled my underwear out. [Laughter.] Boy I backed out of the house kind of, you know. I said, "I got to go outside a minute." They didn't have no inside toilets no way. And I said, "I got to go outside a minute."

And I went outside and kept walking. And I said, "I ain't never going nowhere, and when I leave home I'm going to get just as many clothes (Photo of Robert before car.) as I want, and I'm going to have me a car and I ain't going to walk nowhere. If I'm up the street from the store, I'm going to back to the store." I'm talking to myself, saying what I'm going to do, man. And I walked all the way to the house and that broke me from going out much. I wouldn't go. And people thought I was young, 'cause that's why I didn't go out. But I didn't have no clothes to go out with 'cause I'd wear mine out before they would, and Momma would patch them, and I couldn't go out and see no girl with no pair of patchy pants, you know. So when I got about seventeen, I started to pack up my things and I was going to leave.

View from car traveling down Main Street in the small town of Creedmoor.

John: [Voice over.] It never dawned on me what I wanted to be. Because I never saw anything. When I got in high school that onliest that ever impressed me-what I wanted to do. I used to go to the laundry and watch how those peoples pressed those clothes. The onliest thing that ever went into my mind that I really wanted to open up was a dry cleaner.

Men's shop John gets out of car and walks into Shelley's Men's Shop on Main Street. Mr. Shelley fits him for a suit (singing uniform).

John: [Voice over.] Fifty percent of your singing or how far you will ever get in singing Is the way you dress. If they're not curious over who you get or what's going on in there or how many songs you're going to sing, or what song you're going to sing, or whatever. They're curious of what you have on when you come through the door.

Shelley: We're going to have to do some operating on them [the clothes]. But we can do that. Try that vest. You guys got everything together for Sunday night?

John: Pretty much.

Shelley: I've got a couple of special requests. You gonna be singing "Dust on the Bible"?

John: We'll do it for you.

Shelley: Well, all right. We've had some folks have already requested that.

John: We'll be glad to do it for you.

Clothes Interior John's bedroom. John shows one of his uniforms.

John: This suit is burgundy with the pin stripes, light pin stripes. Now these pin stripes are almost the color of this shirt. All right, that is to bring out the pin stripes in this suit, you would use this shirt. All right, this tie has what it has in this suit. It has what it [has] in this shirt. Also you have grey in this necktie, then you would go to this type shoe to bring out a complete uniform. Most every suit that I show you in this closet here, we can go back and pick them up at any time. And they can be used. They're not out of style.
Classroom at the Hawley Elementary School. Golden Echoes get dressed for their performance.

As a spiritual group, we cannot dress flashy. If we were a pop singing group, you'd dress very flashy. Something that's here today and gone tomorrow.

John enters auditorium and greets crowd.
He sings "The Old Rugged Cross."

Rugged Cross Song: "The Old Rugged Cross" from Golden Echoes 1981 concert.

On a hill far away
Stood an old rugged cross
Where the emblem of suffering and shame,

God a'mighty
Oh, I love that old cross
Where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners they were slain.

So I'll cherish, cherish the old rugged cross
'Til my trophies at last, oh, I lay down.
Said, I'm going to cling to the old rugged cross
I'm gonna exchange it, Lord, someday, someday for a crown.

(Is that all right, Church?) [Applause.]

To that old rugged cross
I will ever be true
It's shame and approach gladly be.
God's gonna call me someday-
I'm not worried about it-
To my home far away
Where his glory forever, Lord, I'll share.

So I'll cherish, cherish the old rugged cross
'Til my trophies, Lord, at last, at last, oh, I lay down.
Said, I'm gonna cling to the old, whoo! old rugged cross.
God a'mighty! Oh, yes I am.
I'm gonna exchange it, Lord, someday, someday, for a crown.

Photographs of family members shown as Bertha talks aboul naming children:
1. John in Golden Echoes group.
2. Truzell.
3. Zenas in Army.
4. W.C.
5. Tony with singing group.

Bertha: [Mostly voice over photos.] Well, John was named after his grand-daddy. His name was John William. And my sister named Truzell. Zenas, my teacher named him. I was reading in the Bible one day and saw his name in the Bible. I didn't know it was in there. W.C. was named after his daddy, Wylie Coy. We just called him W.C. Tony's named Andrew Jameson. And the man we lived with-he was a tobacco buyer. He bought tobacco for the Japs, Japanese, and his name was Andrew Jameson, and he named Tony. We was living at that time down on his farm. I don't know who named Fleming [laughs]...

Seated at table, Bertha talks about naming children. More photographs:
6. Fleming
7. Jessie May
8. Robert
9. Priscilla.
10. T.B. Magnum
11. Doshie

I just don't know who named Fleming. And I don't know who named Jessie Mae. My father had a brother named Robert and I had a brother named Robert, and he was named after them. And Priscilla was named aficr her great grandmother And my brother who was a funeral director that died-T.B. Magnum-he named Doshie. Her name is Katherine Doshie, Doshie Katherine.

Photograph ot Doshie in nurse's uniform.

Doshie: The last family that I worked for in Durham was Mrs. Glenn. She wanted somebody to come in to take care of her husband.

Photograph of Doshie's employer in Durham.

He was a diabetic and you had to give him needles, you know. insulin. I guess about three or four months after he went back to work, he died. And he left me in his will, and she took the money and went and bought me some uniforms and said, "Now, Walter left you in his will, and I bought you some uniforms with the money." I said, "You take them uniforms and do what you want to with." I said, "I will not be working for you no more." I said, "Because I didn't-he didn't leave that here for you to buy something for me to work in. It was for me to do what I wanted to do with. And you bought the uniforms. Now you wear 'em."

I just got in the car and told my sister-in-law to call her and tell her I won't be back to work, and that's how I got to New Jersey. (Photo of Doshie working at machine in New Jersey factory.) But after awhile I went to work, and I've been climbing ever since. [Laughs.] So (Doshie turns to Jessie Mae.) that's how I left North Carolina. Now how did you leave?

Jessie Mae: I got married. [Laughter.] My husband was in the service and we got married.

Landis women talk around table about photographs.

Bertha: And he got to preaching in the service, and she didn't know it.

Jessie Mae: I never wanted to marry a preacher or a doctor.

Priscilla: And no one that ate chitlins.

Jessie Mae: This boy was going with me, and I said you have to give up me or the chitlins. He give up the chitlins, and Bruce said he stepped in. So he went back to eating chitlins. That's how I got to Jersey.

Photograph of Jessie May and her husband.
Photograph of segregated Rex Theatre.

Bertha: Way back yonder, you couldn't vote, 'cause they wouldn't let you vote. Maybe one or two elderly persons that had a good record and they knew good. They would let 'em vote. But in the meantime they wouldn't let 'em vote.

View of country store and political signs.

Claude: [Voice over.] My mother told me I had to go register. That was something I had to do. You had to vote. "Make sure you vote," voting day she'd remind us.

Voting Bertha and Priscilla vote inside store.

Registrar: Seventy-five or -six?

Bertha: If I was seventy-five, I'd marry again.

Bertha: [Voice over] Of course, everybody wants their rights if they know what their rights is. Anybody want that. I do. But sometime, you can't get your rights, a heap of times.

Claude stands in pea patch and talks of segregated schools.

Claude: We had a school here, and the setup was altogether different from the (Photo of one-room school for black children.) white school. We couldn't ever get what we needed. We had to use, to get, books that, you know, were outdated, used, and all this. And the bus would (Photo of children walking to school.) pass us, you know, with the white kids on it, but we had to walk. So, I mean, it was a plain to see that you supposed to be better than me. It's simple. The answer's simple to that. "You're not good enough yet, or you're not good enough, period." So, okay, we'll see.

School bus drives by. It passes in front of Claude's house. Claude's daughter and fellow student walk toward her house after getting off bus.

Ken Daniel: [Voice over.] My class was the first class to go to the all-white school. The first day of school you get off the bus, you know, and you're in a new place. And all these white people are standing there looking at you, you know. "Well, what are you doing here?"

Ken Daniel talks in his kitchen.

And the thing that got to me was that, you know, some of the people that I knew, that, you know, I had grown up with all during the years, played with, you know. I felt like when I got to the school, they turned on me, you know. And I couldn't understand that. I'd say, you know, "I played with these guys, you know, after school and all this time, and then when it's time to go to school with them, they turn on me," you know. We got all the flack, you know. We'd get off the bus, you know, and they were laughing at us, you know: "Look at these dumb niggers" and stuff, you know. "They ain't got no business here."

When I got there I realized that the only way that we were going to really prove to these people-I guess they thought that we were not as good or that we couldn't do the work-was you had to go in the classroom and academically compete with these people, you know.

Computers Ken Daniel works in computer center at Liggett-Myers Tobacco Company.

And once they saw, hey, that these people are not just a bunch of people from the farm and don't have any intelligence whatsoever.They can come in here and compete with us, you know, on the same level academically. Things kinda changed a little bit.

Close up of Ken Daniel as he puts tape into cassette player.
Exterior of Ken Daniel's trailer.
Interior shots of his trailer.

Breakdance Ken Daniel's brother, Ephrim, and his son, Phillip, break dance in trailer living room.

Song "Sweet Pea'" a contemporary tune on cassette.

A Singing Stream
main page


A Transcription of A Singing Stream

From the special Singing Stream issue of the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Vol 36, No. 1 (Winter-Spring 1989).

Part 3


Children walk along paved road in front of homeplace. A pickup truck passes them as they dribble a basketball.

John: Well, I have a brother, a brother that's older, and he lived away for twenty-five years. He came back, he (John drives his car as he talks) built him a home and he's down here now. But at the time he left here, he couldn't make a decent living. My sister is a good example. She's moving back down here. They have been away for, I guess, twenty or thirty years. And they're back. Coming back to live.

Car passes John's house and other Landis homes then goes up drive of homeplace.

Doshie: [Voice over.] I left home with the intention of coming back. But I didn't know whether, how I was going to come back, or when I was coming back. And when we began to see how people were living down here, we found that we could do better down here than we could up there because everything was so expensive up there. See, when people began to build homes and put bathrooms in, you know, and all that stuff. And that was what really encouraged us to come back.

Car drives up to reunion at homeplace.

Scenes at reunion:
1. Fleming arrives with ribs.
2. Fleming greets Jessie Mae.
3. Family prepares food in kitchen and serve it outside.
4. Claude gives little girl a slice of watermelon.
5. Women laugh.
6. Fleming, Claude, and Robert laugh with Bill Braswell.
7. Fleming, Robert, and Bill Braswell sing a verse of song.

After I've done my best
I wanna rest wanna rest, wanna rest

John & Bill 8. John shows Bill Braswell old photo of the Rising Star gospel group.
9. Bill points out members of Rising Star group.

John: They took my picture, and they turned around and took the whole group's picture.

Bill Braswell: We were really something. There's Fleming. There's Robert, his brother, behind him. There's his other brother, Truzell, standing right there. That's my cousin, the guitar player, Urcel. There's his brother Nurris. And that's me. The big man, the big man on the end, Big Bill Braswell.

Fleming, Claude, Robert, Truzell Landis, and Big Bill Braswell from the original Rising Stars sing. Family members look on.

When Was Jesus Born Song: "When Was Jesus Born?"

Tell me, when was Jesus born?
Last month in the year.
Want you tell me when was Jesus born?
Last month in the year.
January?
No.
February?
No, no, no, no, no, no.
March, April, or May?
Ha, ha, ha . . .
June, July, August, September, October, November,
About the twenty-fifth day of December.
God a'mighty, the last month of the year.

They tell me he was born of a virgin.
Lord, he was wrapped up in a swaddling.
God'a'mighty Iyin' in a manger.

January, February, March, April, or May
Ha, ha, ha, June, July, August, September,
October, November,
About the twenty-fifth day of December.
Last month in the year.

Echoes of Heaven tour farm with Granville County cousins. They see cow in field.

Echoes of Heaven and cousins: [Dialogue.] We almost wrecked the car 'cause there's a cow. "A cow, you all look." We stopped to let Tyrone takes pictures of the cow. Ain't never been to the country in his life. They're really gonna be fascinated by this pig.

Photograph Cow They photograph cow.

Here we go. Ya'll get ready to run. Take it kind of fast. [Laughter.] Come on, don't be scared now. Go closer than that. Go closer. Feed it to him. LaNette, go closer. .

Cows don't have tails, do they?

Yeah, cows have tails. You ain't no country gal, is you.

She ain't never been to the South.

That's a heifer. It's a girl.

A bull? A bull is a heifer?

Unh-huh, it's a girl. A girl is a heifer. A girl is a heifer.

She ain't no bull.

That's a cow?

You told me it was a bull: "Let's take a picture of the bull."

Let's get out of this field now. Who can take all this sun?

Cousins talk more and walk to Ken Daniel's trailer home.

Interior of Ken Daniel trailer. Players ready instruments. Fleming and Echoes of Heaven talk about singing.

Fleming: Wait a minute. Let me fix it for ya. Okay, ya'll running away from your words. That's what you're doing is you're cutting your words too short. Show me where you had it at. [He sings verse.]

Echoes of Heaven sing, and family listens to performance.

Echoes of Heaven Song: "Trouble in My Way."

Trouble in my way
Trouble in my way
I have to cry sometime
Have to cry sometime.
Oh, trouble in my way
I have to cry sometime.

I stay awake at night
That's all right.
Jesus he will fix it after while.
After while.

Trouble in my way
Trouble in my way
I have to moan sometimes,
I have to moan whoo, whoo.
So much trouble
Trouble in my way
I have to moan sometimes,
I have to moan whoo, whoo.

I lay awake at night
I lay awake at night.
But that's all right
That's all right
Jesus, he will fix it after while.
After while.

Stepped in the furnace
Stepped in the furnace.
Long time ago
Long time ago.
Shadrach and Meshach
Shadrach and Meshach
And Abednego
And Abednego...

Ken Daniel Ken Daniel: I guess this family is kind of based around music and singing. (Ken Daniel talks in his kitchen.) You know, I've been around music and as long as I can remember. Grandma and all our uncles and my mother and father-they've always been singing. You know, I don't know myself personally, but talking to Grandma. You know, her father and his father, they were all musicians. She used to tell me the stories about them going places on Saturday night playing the fiddle, harmonica, and all this stuff. Providing entertainment. Everybody you see in here now either plays something or sings something.

Golden Echoes sing at concert. Audience responds. Karen Landis sings with John Landis and Golden Echoes.

Bertha Landis Song: "Going Up to Meet Him."

Oh, by and by. By and by.
Oh, by and by. By and by.
Said, I'm going on a chariot ride.

By and by. By and by.
By and by. By and by.
Said, I'm going on a chariot ride.

Aw, yes I am. By and by.
Said, I'm going on a chariot ride.

That's why I'm going up to meet him in the air.
Said, I'm going up to meet him.
Going up to meet him.
Nothing but joy and happiness.
Peace forever. Peace forever.
We will tell, tell the story
About his wonderful, wonderful glory.

Said, I'm going up to meet him in the air.
Said, I'm going up to meet him.
Said, I'm going up to meet him.

Nothing but joy and happiness.
Peace forever.
We will tell, tell the story
About his wonderful, wonderful glory

Said, I'm going up to meet him.
I'm going up to meet him.
Said, I'm going up to meet him in the air.

I'm going, said I'm going.
If you don't go, don't hinder me.
God'a'mighty, if you don't go, don't hinder me.
Can I count on you? What about you?

If my mother don't go
She can't hinder me.
If my father don't go,
He can't hinder me. _

You can't hinder me.
And you, and you.

Going Up To Meet Him Karen Landis joins her uncle John in singing

Mother,will you meet me there?
Sister, will you meet me there?
Brother, will you meet me there?
Echoes are gonna be there.
Singing everywhere.

Going up to meet him.
Going up to meet him.
Will you meet me there? _

Echoes of Heaven sing.

Well, I've been to the river
And I've been baptized.
My soul has been converted
Right now I feel all right.

Going up to meet him
Going up to meet him.
Going up to meet him....

Bertha: [Voice over at end of song.] These old songs, even though they are old, every time that they are sung, they sound new. It's just like the Bible: you can take the Bible and read it over and over and, every time you read the word of God, it's new. It never gets old.

Exterior of Rock Springs Baptist Church. Church interior. Family attends reunion service.

Come and Let's Go to That Land Song: "Come and Let's Go to That Land."

Come and let's go to that land.
Come and let's go to that land.
Come and let's go to that land where I'm bound.

Come and let's go to that land.
Come and let's go to that land.
Come and let's go to that land where I'm bound.

Service continues. Doshie announces ceremony remembering those who have died in past year. Family sings; Fleming leads.

Song: "He'll Understand."

If when you try and fail in your trying,
Hands sore and scarred from the work you have done,
Take up your cross and run swiftly to meet him.
He'll understand and say "well done."

Bruce Tharrington Bruce Tharrington, Jessie Mae's husband, preaches.

[Sermon fragment.]
A pine tree will do when nothing else is there.
Go on your knees.
God will find a way
just as sure as you are born.

He'll lift you up.

I know it seems at times
that the odds are leaning in our society
away from those who have not,
but I'm here to tell you right now
if you'll hold on,
if you'll hold out,
victory is sure on the way
just as sure as you are born to die.

Family sings.

Song: "Trusting in Jesus."

Jesus, calling to Jesus.
Jesus, in my soul.
For I have touched the hem of his garment
And his blood has made me whole.

Jesus, trusting in Jesus.
Jesus, in my soul.
For I have touched the hem of his garment
And his blood has made me whole.

Bertha Landis Bertha is presented award.

Bertha: I was one of the founders of this family reunion. Myself, my husband Coy Landis, and my mother-in-law, his mother, Lula Landis Bullock Eaton. We organized this reunion, we talked about it, and we acted about it, and we got it going. And it's still going. And when I'm gone to heaven, it will still be going on.

Family sings, led by John.

Union in Heaven Song: "Union in Heaven." ..

[Chorus:]
There's a union up in heaven, where I belong.
There's a union up in heaven, where I belong.
There's a union up in heaven, where I belong.
I belong to that union band.

Oh, Sister, didn't I tell you so
I belong to that union band
I am on my way and I must go
I belong to that union band.

There's a union up in heaven, where I belong.
There's a union up in heaven, where I belong.
There's a union up in heaven, where I belong to that union band.

Family Photo Exterior shot of homeplace. Family gets ready to be photographed in front of house

Bertha: [Voice over.] When we bought this place we had to go over there and take out group insurance. And the people had to pass us to go into the other room. And they would stop and take a look. "Is this all your children?" "Yes." "Well that beats all I ever seen. One, two, three, four, five," sometimes they would count to twenty, and they're weren't but eleven of 'em. And they'd count all the way to twenty "You ever whip them?" "Yeah, I keep a switch in the kitchen and one in the house." "How do you feed them?" He said, "I grow everything I eat except sugar and coffee." "Well, what do you do?" He looked at me. Everybody'd pass there would ask the same question. I said, "I cook and wash and iron and work in the field."

Credits run across series of photographs from Landis family collections.

Song: "Mighty Close to Heaven."

Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
When I live with Jesus all alone.
Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.

I get mighty close to heaven through my tears.

I see death come creeping
Leaves their loved ones sleeping
Crushing my poor heart with grief and fear.
When my friends can't answer _
Turning to my master
I get close to heaven through my tears.

Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.

Mighty close to heaven, mmmmm.
I get mighty close to heaven through my tears.



A Singing Stream
main page


A Transcription of A Singing Stream

From the special Singing Stream issue of the North Carolina Folklore Journal, Vol 36, No. 1 (Winter-Spring 1989).

Part 1 - 18 minutes, 45 seconds

Acknowledgments

Funding
Funding for A Singing Stream totaled $101,000. Production of the film was supported by an independent filmmakers grant from the American Film Institute in association with the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional support from
The National Endowment for the Arts
The North Carolina Arts Council
The North Carolina Humanities Committee
The Southeast Media Fellowship program
The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
The Virginia Commission for the Arts
The L. J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation
Ann R. Roberts

Special thanks to
Bertha Landis
Her sons: John, Claude, Fleming, Robert, Tony, Truzell, and Zenas
Her daughters: Doshie Winston, Jessie Mae Tharrington, and Priscilla Daniel
Her son-in-law: Rev. Bruce Tharrington
Her grandaughter Karen Landis and grandson Kenneth Daniel
And to other members of the Landis family.

Additional thanks to
The Golden Echoes.
Wilburt Malone, Luther Foster, Andrew Green, the late Ronald Perry, John and Claude Landis, Kenneth Daniel, Sidney and Len Brodie.

Karen Landis and the Echoes of Heaven, Akron, Ohio.

Roy "Billie" Braswell

The pastor and congregation of Rock Springs Baptist Church
Members of the Harris, Byrd, Green, Lawrence, and
Landis Family Reunions
The Staff of G. C. Hawley Elementary School
Shelley's Men's Store
The Department of Radio, TV, and Motion Picture, UNC Chapel Hill
Gary Shivers and Radio Station WUNC-FM
George Holt and the North Carolina Office of Folklife Programs
The Friends and Students of the UNC Curriculum in Folklore

Still photographs from
The Landis Family
The Library of Congress
The North Carolina Collection, UNC Library
The North Carolina State Archives
Victor Lukas and Ray Funk

Fiscal Agents
The Institute for Southern Studies
The Southern Regional Council
The Mordecai Square Historical Society

Advisors to the project
Trudier Harris
James Peacock
Charles G. Zug, III
Beverly Patterson


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